A few days ago, two political philosophy professors whose work I studied in college, died on the same day. Both lived long lives, Walter Berns was 95, and Harry Jaffa was 96.
Here is Peter Augustine Lawler writing at National Review (emphasis is mine):
Berns and Jaffa, two legendary teachers and scholars, died last Saturday within hours of each other. What tied them together is they were both students of Leo Strauss, and all of their writing was fundamentally indebted to “disruptive innovations” that Strauss introduced into our understanding of thought and politics.
The first generation of “Straussians” were mostly scholars who aimed to be public intellectuals writing in the service of both their country and the future of liberty. The political context was first of all the Cold War and later the promiscuous deconstruction of free thought, responsible citizenship, and the relational foundation of virtue by various currents of the Sixties.
The promiscuous deconstruction of responsible citizenship has been the topic of a lot of my writing since college, and it continues in this set of articles about the Republican Party. Here’s Harry Jaffa writing just last year (again, the emphasis is mine):
The end of the Cold War has also brought an end to the remission of the disease of moral relativism that is corroding the life of western civilization. It would certainly seem that the salvation of the West must come, if it is to come, from the United States. The salvation of the United States, if it is to come, must come from the Republican Party. And the salvation of the Republican Party, if it is to come, must come from the conservative movement within it.
Political philosophy is not just an intellectual exercise about theoretical matters; rather, it gets to the heart of the matter. Let’s get back to our discussion that is, frankly, about how to save the GOP from being a failure.
Conservatives can pretend that a weak GOP is someone else’s problem, but it’s not. No one is going to ride in to rescue you. You need to get off your butt and participate in the process of building the GOP.
Yes — there’s an enormous amount of work to be done. There are those who would say it’s naïve and unrealistic to think that more Americans will step up and get involved in politics and government. I disagree.
More on this next time.